Written by Emma Scanlan 22nd December 2023

Chain of Hope's 20th Anniversary Mission to JamaicaChain of Hope's 20th Anniversary Mission to JamaicaChain of Hope's 20th Anniversary Mission to Jamaica

In November, Chain of Hope celebrated its 20th year of conducting medical missions to help children with heart disease in Jamaica.

Chain of Hope has led over 70 missions to Jamaica over the years, with 65 of those going to the Bustamante Hospital for Children (BHC) alone. Since then, a total of 900 patients have been helped by the charity and its partners.

The 20th mission trip was led by Professor Victor Tsang from Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children and was sponsored by British Airways.

Prof Tsang first visited BHC in 2003 together with Founder Sir Magdi Yacoub and the late world-renowned heart surgeon, Prof Marc de Leval. Prof Tsang commented;

"it is our honour to support the local team. The children of Jamaica deserve a local cardiac service. Cardiac surgery is expensive, but it should be available to those who need it."

Chain of Hope has been mobilising specialist cardiac surgeons, physicians, nurses to Jamaica to help treat children suffering from life threatening heart disease since 1996. Working with like-minded charities; the Jamaica Childrens Heart Fund and Gift of Life, Chain of hope has always placed a huge amount of focus on knowledge transfer over the years.

Sister Nurse White at BHC commented;

“when Professor Yacoub and the team came in 2003 we knew nothing about cardiac, but their nurses over the years helped teach us and train us and we’ve only had good experiences with the Chain of Hope team.” 

As the years went on, Chain of Hope continued to send annual missions to treat Jamaican children for free, turned into missions twice per year and increased their teaching role with the goal of establishing a local paediatric cardiac service.

Years later a local based charity ‘Chain of Hope Jamaica’ was established to help with the mobilisation of cardiac services in the island. Chain of Hope Jamaica based on the grounds of BHC has been supporting the local cardiac team with specialist equipment or sessional nurses to enable the local team to perform surgeries in between missions. 400 children are born every year in Jamaica with heart defects and many children are waiting for surgery and so the aim is to increase capacity at BHC.

In 2010 Chain of Hope signed an MOU with the government of Jamaica and other partner charities to develop a dedicated cardiac unit on the grounds of BHC to help remove the bottleneck of intensive care space. After a lot of effort of fundraising by COH, Gift of Life and the Shaggy Foundation and many others, the first ever dedicated paediatric Cardiac Unit was opened at BHC in November 2017. Equipped with a new Paediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, a BI-plane Cardiac Catheterisation laboratory and a cardiac operating theatre.

Chain of Hope intends to continue to provide teaching and training for the team at BHC as well as provision of equipment, as part of the aim of providing a free service for as many of the cardiac children of Jamaica as possible.

Categories: Events, Overseas Updates, Children, Press

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